I went back and forth in my mind about the title of this little thing. It came down to intersectional privilege or white privilege, even though I was going to make the same basic points either way. And so, naturally, I asked myself which one would be more inflammatory. Ha ha, he joked.
I have ventured into this territory before, so more background on these musings, if you need it, can be found here and here. A brief cautionary note, however. These non-NQN posts might have some reasonable qualifications in them, so forewarned is forearmed.
A Little DNA Data
Before getting to it, if I want to talk about my white privilege, the very first thing to do is to establish my bona fides. As a result of the intrepid work of our friends over at AncestryDNA.com, it appears that 63% of my stock was the result of various flirtatious mash ups, some of which were probably not a good idea at all, in Northern England, Wales, the Scottish lowlands, and Northern Ireland. Ireland and Scotland contributed a distinct 27%. Germanic Europe chipped in with 2%, and Norway weighed in with 8%—with a possible dollop coming from Iceland. Iceland. All of this is to acknowledge—as I hope I am doing frankly and without guile— that I am kind of white.
Let us be frank. I am almost as white as Elizabeth Warren’s very high cheekbones. I am almost as white as Justin Trudeau’s undercoat.
So much for the background facts. The difficulty arises when I indicate by various rhetorical devices (such as these pesky things here called words) that I refuse to feel bad about any of this. I have read my Bible multiple times and the only place where anybody felt bad about somebody being white was right after Aaron saw that Miriam had been turned as white as snow (Num. 12:10). But that had only happened to her because she had spoken out against Moses on account of the black Ethiopian lady he had married. I, on the other hand, have always thought it was kind of cool that Moses had married a Cushite, and so it has come to pass that the good Lord has not seen any need to make me look any more mid-winter Icelandic than I already do. And besides, most scholars agree that leprosy doesn’t really count.
But here is why it is such a shame that intersectional analysis had not really been fully developed by the time of the Exodus, because both Miriam and Aaron had spoken out against Moses (Num. 12:1), and yet only Miriam got herself whitened. Is this not yet one more case of male privilege? If we consider the post-structural contributions of Germaine Fischer-Baine Tinkweiler, EdD, whose landmark work on the post-colonial female breast as both social construct and embodied intuition confirms this intersectional solution, it seems hard to deny.
And yet, we have to remember that intersectional analysis is still in its infancy and we have not completely settled on the appropriate weights and measures that go with things like birth order, sex, sexuality, race, looks, straight white teeth, class, and so on. For example, we don’t even know if lesbianism comes in cubits or ephahs.
And it is kind of hard to know how to play rock, paper, scissors when you don’t know what beats what.
The Central Offense Here
Okay. Enough with the horsing around. What is going to attract the ire of some in all of this is the fact that I freely acknowledge being (really) white, and in addition I grant that this comes with certain privileges that others don’t have access to, and the harmonic conjunction of these two realities does not bother me at all. I don’t feel guilty about any of it. I can swank around in this white epidermis all day long, and yet sleep like a baby. The whiteness and white privilege both go together, and even my name is Scottish.
Of course, honesty compels me to mention that this name—Douglas—means something along the lines of “out of the black swamp.” This is, I don’t mind saying, a little bit hurtful. One time I checked one of those spinner racks in a Christian store, the ones with little plaques with your name on it, along with the meaning of the name in question, and an associated verse. You know, really edifying stuff. I was curious with how they would manage “out of the black swamp,” but I needn’t have worried. The Christian merch industry was up to the challenge, and rendered my name as meaning “seeker of light,” which is presumably what someone ensconced in a black swamp would be seeking. Or at least should be seeking. Where was I?
Right. I was not feeling bad about something that all the virtuous cis-lords in the land are currently insisting that I feel bad about. Virtually every campus in North America is ablaze with indignation over the unbearable whiteness of being, and which most certainly includes my contributions to it.
So as Francis Schaeffer might have asked, how then shall we be white?
The central driving engine of all this current pomo madness is the idea that a commitment to fixed, objective truth is itself a Euro-Western form of racism and oppression. If I maintain that we have to consider the actual facts first, then I have given myself away as an oppressor. Only oppressors and colonial masters think like that. If I do not bow down before this current narrative, and if I do not festoon that narrative with whatever convenient facts may be ready at hand, while leaving any inconvenient facts in the box, then I have revealed myself to be a monster.
This is the world we now live in, but it does simplify things for thinking Christians somewhat. If the bad guys dismiss truth the way they do, then this means that they have sold themselves into the service of the lie. Dismissing truth is a grand identifier. It is a uniform.
Jesus is the Truth, and because He is the truth, we live in a world where truths matter, all truths, and all the way down. Truth really is fixed, objective, normative, unbudgeable, and absolute. All those who assail the reality of objective truth have therefore hoisted their dirty mendacity flag, revealing them to be loyal servants of the lie.
So to traffic in the tropes of multiculturalism, diversity, wokeness, social justice, intersectionality, feminism, critical theory, socialism, cultural Marxism, postmodernism, or climate change means one of two things. Either you are a liar peddling lies, or you are a chump peddling lies. That’s it. No more options are actually available.
Before racial reconciliation can be accomplished, we have to understand that ethnic tensions can only be resolved in the world God made and through the cross Christ died on. Nothing whatever is going to be accomplished by appointing a bunch of commies to the editorial boards of all of our dictionaries. So whiteness is a problem, is it? Before we talk about that, what world are we in? The world God made, with sin defined by Him? Or the world you are trying to make, with all sin defined by you?
If the latter, then perhaps you will pardon me if I just walk away.
The Politics of Privilege Explained
In the world they are trying to construct, race (and sex, and everything else) is merely a social construct, which is kind of like attempting to build an obelisk the size of the Washington Monument out of paper mâché. All it has to do is rain a couple of times and their future glory will sink down into a sodden mass, a great pile of former grandeur. No doubt its failure will be attributed to the secret machinations and plots of the capitalists.
In the world God actually made, the question of white or black is a biological fact, and not a religio-political identity. In the world they desire to build with their epistemic paper mâché, the correct religio-political identity is everything and trumps every creational fact.
We Christians believe that Jesus is Lord, and so it is that His Word governs all, and determines the nature of things. These secularists believe that their burgeoning state is lord, and so it is that its word (aka their word) should govern all, and determine the nature of things, which is—as they have now solemnly decreed—fluid. Their death grip on the dictionary editorial decisions is, however, not at all fluid.
The world is always governed by the god of the system, of necessity, and so this lunatic cultural episode we are all witnessing should be tagged for what it is, that is to say, a demented effrontery. The god of their system is directly challenging the God who dwells in unapproachable light.
“I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
Isaiah 14:13–14 (KJV)
Yeah. Been tried before.
White Black People
If you doubt what I say, why are Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell not generally hailed as black exemplars? The answer is simple, if you consider it for more than ten minutes. It is because they are not really black. Black is now a religio-political identity, and this idolatrous approach to politics requires that it swallow up everything. They are not black for the same reason that Margaret Thatcher was not a woman. Why isn’t anybody in the racial reconciliation crowd reaching out to Voddie Baucham?
Black and woman and gay and so on have been transformed into political favors to be handed out to political favorites. The fact that the first two are creational gifts and the third is a sexual perversion doesn’t change anything about the game that is being played. When Peter Thiel endorsed Trump, Thiel being that man who said at the Republican convention that he was “proud to be gay” to whoops and cheers, he was stripped by the progressives of his “status” as a gay man. It turns out that just about everybody is confused, especially Republicans.
This is why a black conservative is, in their world, an oxymoron. They are in charge of genuine blackness™—and black conservatives don’t have it. They are the arbiters of true womanhood™—and a pro-life woman is, in their minds, a sexual heretic and this is why she has to be summarily excommunicated. Rachel Dolezal, with the wrong color but the right opinions, was far more black than Clarence Thomas, he the one with the right color and wrong opinions.
What matters to them is not what God did, but what they say. What matters to them is not skin color considered as a creational reality. The only thing they care about is their orthodoxy (defined as them getting their way, no matter what).
All of this, from front to back, top to bottom, side to side, is a simple and straightforward power play. And they are running this power play on a traditional establishment that doesn’t even know how to stop a toddler pitching a fit in a restaurant. Still less do they know how to stop a million antifa toddlers, pitching the same kind of fit.
Zero Sum Envy
The spiritual rot that is driving all of this is the crushing sin of envy. Privilege (perceived or real) is always resented by the envious, and they are the only ones who resent it. Privilege is never resented by the grateful, by the contented, by the saints of God.
If God has blessed someone else with more smarts, then God bless him. If God has blessed her with better looks, then may God continue to bless her. If God has blessed him with wealth and favor, it sounds like something straight out of the book of Deuteronomy.
When the rich steal from the poor, or defraud them, the problem is the stealing (Jas. 5:4-5). The problem is not the mere fact of income inequality. The problem is the stealing.
“A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; But a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both. Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; But who is able to stand before envy?”
Prov. 27:3–4 (KJV)
The envious simply assume that if there is any difference at all, then an offense has necessarily been committed. This is why the mere existence of any kind of privilege is an affront to them. They assume that every good in the world is apportioned in a zero sum game, meaning that if one person has more, then that means the others have less because of the guy who has more. But this is not the way God dispenses blessings.
In a world free of envy, one person getting a bigger slice of pie does not necessitate others getting a smaller piece because in a world free of envy, the pie grows. What would you rather? A smaller fraction of a huge pie or a huge fraction of a teeny pie? But enough about socialism.
Parents who love each other and stay together are imparting unbelievable privileges to their children. Parents who read to their children are doing the same. Parents who take their kids to the orthodontist are also privilege-mongers. Parents who provide their kids with warmth, food, security, and education are strewing privilege out of a sack with both hands. How can privilege be evil when God commands parents to give so much of it to their children?
So the best way to bequeath privilege to your children is to ensure that they grow up in a home free from envy. And if they grow up in a home where envy is recognized for the soul-destroying sin that it is, then this is also the best way to equip them to deal with a world that is crammed full of envy, a world that runs on envy. Growing up in an envy free home is the best way to build up an immune system against this pandemic of ulcerated sores that the world likes to call social justice.
A world full of envy cannot deal with Christians who laugh effortlessly.
A Small Gallimaufry of Observations
White privilege is supposed to be everywhere and in everything, like the frogs of Egypt. Only nobody can see them, so they are the invisible frogs of Egypt. In fact, we only know there are there because the priests of Egypt have told us about them. But why are you listening to the priests of Egypt?
White privilege is supposed to be this insidious thing that becomes deadly if denied. In other words, if you deny that you are guilty of white privilege, in the senses ascribed to you, then they instantly up the ante because they think their culture is in peril. This is why they turn you into a white supremacist, and they do that by simply declaring you to be one.
The ease with which numerous online commenters hurl accusations of white supremacy around—let us call them “click bait lies”—shows how this racism inflation works. Racism is no longer the sin they are trying to rid us of. Rather, charges of racism is the discipline that is applied whenever anybody who is guilty of any of the other sins they have made up.
This is not a white/black thing, but it illustrates what is being done to the word privilege. When the amphibious landing craft were approaching Normandy beach, they were all exclusively filled with young males, holding their guns nervously, and our generation has taken to calling this kind of thing male privilege. I grant that there was privilege involved, but submit that according to this calculus, the privilege was elsewhere.
This is how we know we are dealing with the apostles and priests of a new religion, a religion entirely distinct from the Christian faith. They are laying sovereign claim over every word in the dictionary, and they have the impudence to believe they are going to pull it off.
In the grip of this folly, they claim that they are the intelligent ones, the sensitive ones, the ones they have been waiting for. Whatever butters your cabbage.
A Final Thought
So don’t waste your whiteness.
If you were born into this world with this particular privilege, then it is your solemn obligation to be a good steward of that privilege. This, mind you, is privilege in God’s world, not privilege in that pretendy world of the envious, where carping and clawing are the rule, and where every privilege is assumed to be obtained at the expense of somebody else.
If it is actual privilege, then a Christian has the responsibility to steward it with a grateful spirit of noblesse oblige. And of course noblesse oblige that is patronizing or supercilious isn’t noblesse oblige at all. However, if it is the faux-sin of whiteness that the guilt-mongers are hurling at you, then you have the responsibility to just laugh at them and go on your way. And a black man with privileges that I don’t have, but who has the same spirit of gratitude, should do exactly the same thing. We serve the same kind God, and we are not chafed by anything that God decided to give to somebody else.
If God has given you something, then you must not accuse Him of being a hard master, and then go off and bury it in a handkerchief (Luke 19:10). Although, actually, if we want to keep this parable current with the times, that worthless servant would have to go off to some designated safety zone at his college, wrap his whiteness in a handkerchief, give it to the trained counselor, and spend a soothing hour coloring pictures of the therapy puppies.
But the reason the master judges him out of his own mouth in this retold parable is because he didn’t put his whiteness in the handkerchief at all. That entire hour was suffused in whiteness, from the ceiling to the floor, from the front door to the back door, and included the therapist, the coloring books, all the woke business, the hurt feelings, the appropriation of victimhood, the lot. He couldn’t have spent a whiter hour than if he had gone off to the Benjamin Moore factory to dive head first into a vat of White Diamond OC-61.
Today’s Giveaway Deal
In honor of the fact that the center of gravity for my ethnic heritage is far closer to the Arctic Circle than it really ought to have been, the giveaway deal today is my verse rendering of Beowulf.